The Death Knight is just a man, or gnome

12th November 2008 – 9.04 am

Death Knights are coming to World of Warcraft. I'll admit that I really don't know much about the world's lore but it is a pretty evocative class name. Whilst the other classes—druid, hunter, mage, paladin, priest, rogue, shaman, warlock, warrior—certainly conjure up images of adventurers they don't really compare to that of the Death Knight. This isn't your ordinary knight, chivalrous in conduct and expert in battle, someone who would be as comfortable at a dinner table of kings as riding in to combat, this is a Death Knight. The Death Knight evokes images of an evil being stopping at nothing to defeat anyone who stands in his way, crushing women and children without consideration. This is a heroic class that demands respect.

There are plenty of commentators who have already voiced concern about gnomes being an allowed race for Death Knights, their short stature and pink hair making something of a mockery of the class. I am tickled by something different. Whilst the ordinary classes don't seem too out of place in mining ore or plucking herbs and using the gathered materials to learn a tradeskill such as blacksmithing or alchemy it can still seem a little incongruous. When tasked to defeat a mighty warlord or repel an undead invasion it can be somewhat comical to have someone stop for ore or to pick a flower, but just think what it will do to the image of the Death Knight when he does the same.

Here is this mighty fighter, evil and relentless in purpose, pausing in his tracks to pick up some peacebloom. You quake in your boots as a notorious Death Knight storms towards you, before he steps to one side and takes a pickaxe to a copper vein, whistling as he works. I can imagine the Death Knight crafting evil potions in his alchemical laboratory, perhaps like Raz Frostwhisper, and forging mighty weapons and armour imprinted with skulls, but surely he should have minions for gathering the required materials. It somehow seems beneath a Death Knight to bother with such matters.

Not only that, but the crafting process realised in the game doesn't reflect the nature of the Death Knight either. Alchemy is more like using a junior chemical set and blacksmithing creates mostly gaily coloured non-descript armour and small unthreatening daggers and maces. It doesn't seem particularly powerful. And then the Death Knight needs to get rid of all the unwanted excess. I can just see one bargaining with a common vendor about how much the dozen copper daggers are worth, or standing in the auction house with everyone else trying to sell his wares or buy a bargain. I would bet good money that Lady Sylvanas Windrunner never had to do that.

The idea of hero classes is a good one, allowing access to more interesting features that are only available once some knowledge and experience of the game has been shown. It is a shame that the powerfully named Death Knight will be demystified and shown to be just another class, undifferentiated from any other except by name, by all the menial actions they still need to perform. Unless they cause herbs to wither in to special evil herbs in their presence before calling forth a small army of skeletons with massive scythes to gather them, or melt the ore out of the rock with a death-ray stare and collect the molten metal with their bare hands, the Death Knight will fail to live up to its image.

  1. One Response to “The Death Knight is just a man, or gnome”

  2. The Death Knight has arrived! MORTALS! Let fear enter your hearts and your souls turn to ice for I bring destruction and DEATH! You will perish at my hands and be condemned to an eternity of torturous undead servitude TO ME!

    Just as soon as I get my Snowshoe rabbit out. Awww, he's so wuvvery. *scritch* *scritch*

    By Melmoth on Nov 12, 2008

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